The European Commission is launching a new Award designed to celebrate and promote best practices for nature conservation in Europe. The European Natura 2000 Award aims at bringing the success of the network to the public’s attention and to demonstrate its importance for protecting biodiversity across Europe.
The 2013 Flash Eurobarometer survey revealed that only 27% of the respondents have ever heard of the Natura 2000 network, and that 44% know what the term “biodiversity” means. On the other hand, Europeans feel strongly about nature conservation and 97% agree that halting biodiversity loss is a moral obligation.
The Award, which will be an annual event, is open to any entity involved in the implementation of activities related to the management of Natura 2000 sites. Authorities, businesses, land owners, NGOs, educational institutions and individuals from the 28 EU Member States are all eligible to apply for one of the five categories of the award: conservation, socio-economic benefits, communication, reconciling interests/perceptions, and networking and cross-border cooperation.
The Call for applications has been launched on 16 December, with a deadline for the submission of applications on 18 February 2014. The winners will be announced at a high level ceremony in Brussels in May 2014, where they will receive a trophy, along with a symbolic prize of € 2,000 to help support future conservation efforts. This will be followed by local events in the winners’ countries organised with the support of the European Commission. More information is available on the Award website.